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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interview with Manuel Zelaya

A whole month has passed since the return of the constitutional President Manuel Zelaya to Honduras, where he is still refuged in the Brazilian embassy. With this occasion, there is
an interview with Mel, as the president is popularly known in his country, in Basque newspaper Gara that I am translating here:

Gara: After a month since your return to Honduras, which is the current situation?

Zelaya: Honduras is living an unprecedented struggle. It is the first time that in our country an action of this nature is being carried on to revert a coup d'êtat. Today we are fighting to ammend, to rectify, the error they comitted. All this constitutes a challenge to us and the International Community.

G: In what stage are the negotiations now?

Z: They are paralyzed, suspended. They have been obstructed by Micheletti and the de facto regime. With this boycott and this obstruction to dialog, they have become a totalitarian regime that is challenging all Humankind. They are a clone of the regime that Idi Amin established in Uganda or that of Mobutu in Congo. That same thing is what they are applying in Central America these days.

G: Do you believe that the fact of blocking the negotiations could be a strategy by the coupists to gain time until elections?

Z: What they are doing is insulting the intelligence of the whole World, because it is not possible that all countries of planet Earth are wrong and they are right.

G: If the coupists do not present any other proposal, what decision will you make?

Z: We will continue in our determination of fighting for justice. In this we are being supported by all societies, all the governments and the Honduran people. We know that reason and truth accompany us, so we are spiritually calm.

G: Have you thought of any alternative to revert this situation?

Z: The struggle that is happening in Honduras has several fronts: national, international, political, social, economical, technological, juridical... At this moment we are working in all those fronts to try to produce an exit to this situation.

G: Do you think that the International Community has done all they could?

Z: I think that they have done up to where they could. Now there is still another stretch to be transited and I do hope that they will keep the support for the government of this country.

G: The USA condemned the coup but later qualified of "irresponsible" your decision of returning to Honduras and did not even raise this issue in the 64th Assembly of the United Nations. What do you think of their position?

Z: Those are isolated incidents of some officers that do not correlate with their official position of reverting the coup. I am in agreement with the stand of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.

G: Do you believe that the coup in Honduras can set up a precedent and favor that a similar situation could happen elsewhere in Latin America?

Z: Yes. Just with the coup having resisted more than 100 days, it is already causing serious weaknesses in the American democratic system. This happens precisely because of the impotence of international organizations like the OAS or United Nations when faced with an act of force that violates the state of rights, the Democratic Charter of the OAS, the United Nations' Charter and the International Declaration of Human Rights.

Faced with the impotence of international organizations, this coup is actually weakening the image of Latin American democracy. If this coup would be legitimized by means of the electoral fraud that is being prepared, with repression and media suppression, we would be at the doors of the death of Latin American democracy.

G: One of your delegates at the negotiation table, Víctor Meza, alerted that the failure of negotiations could lead to a "social conflict". Do you share this idea?

Z: If you review the social and economical indicators, and those related to social conflict, you will notice that there is already a social conflict. There is in fact a major and widespread social conflict because of the coup. All that is being suffered already by Honduras and all Central America.

G: Do you believe that the level of confrontation will grow if no agreement is reached?

Z: If there is no solution to the problem, it is clear that the level of unhappiness among the people towards the military regime that now appoints the presidents will grow more and more.

G: How do you evaluate the struggle kept by the people in these 116 of resistence?

Z: Extraordinary. It has always been a utopy for Hondurans that the people gets organized, that the people manifests itself and acquires a consciousness of its rights. Now we are living all that in our flesh.

G: Nicaraguan President, Daniel Ortega, said that the Honduran people is acquiring weapons for their struggle. What do you tell him?

Z: The resistence of the Honduran people is a peaceful resistence, and that has been demonstrated in all these more than one hundred days: there is not a single casualty among the military nor the policemen, no resister has been captured having weapons. It rather happens the opposite: more than 89 soldiers with plain clothes have been captured among civilians making violent actions.

The Honduran resistence is peaceful. If there is any expression out of these parameters, it will be particular individuals or groups but they are outside of the terms in which we are defining the struggle, peacefully and democratically through active nonviolence: public demonstrations, strikes... but not armed movements. We oppose radically armed movements and that is why we have not asked for blue helmets nor any military intervention in Honduras.

Our triumph will be to defeat the troops that disrupted the democratic process in a pacific manner. If we could not achieve this, we would keep struggling until achieving some day our main victory: to know that ethical and peaceful struggles can defeat armies and violence.

G: How many people has died at the hands of the police and the army?

Z: More than 100 people have been murdered in these days. We have the names and we have the evidence. But, besides, there are more than 3000 arrested and more than 600 have required hospitalization: people who have been beaten, and even tortured and raped.

G: This last Sunday the High Commissioner of the UN arrived to Tegucigalpa to investigate the human rights' violations since the coup. Have they already contacted you?

Z: We have kept occasional contact but we have not met yet. But of course that we will meet.

G: Do you expect that the investigation ends up with a strong enough report?

Z: Yes. All their declarations have been coherent with reality and have been strong in the condemnation of the regime. Because here they went from a coup to a dictatorial regime that decrees measures against the human rights of the people, that suppresses liberties and media.

G: After a month living in the Brazilian embassy, how do you feel?

Z: In spite of all the tension that we are living through, I have a strong spirit and keep my consciousness standing. I am peaceful, spiritually optimistic and a democrat. But also I have much faith in my formation and that is why I am in politics: because I believe that it is a path that creates strength and hope. We have to stand up through all that path until the societies from the various parts of the World make their rights to be respected.

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